DETROIT – According to a new environmental audit at the Detroit Fire Department, 40% of firefighters have witnessed drinking on the job.
The audit comes after a party was held at a fire station house party, where the department said on-duty firefighters were drinking. An emergency call came in and the first to arrive was crashed a heavy rescue truck into a parked car. The department said he was drunk.
About a week later, an overnight chief couldn’t be reached to manage fire crews. He was found trapped in a department vehicle that crashed. He was arrested for drunk driving.
The city took action and interviewed hundreds of firefighters and EMS workers to find out what they think about a number of issues -- including drinking.
“I think the answers were direct and honest,” said deputy mayor Conrad Mallett.
Many firefighters believe alcohol abuse is a problem that needs to be solved. However, many said they’ve never seen drug use.
Another issue is that the department has one employee for counseling and most firefighters didn’t know the department has an employee assistance program.
“In this instance, that teaches us a valuable lesson,” Mallett said. “We need to be much more direct, intentionally making sure men and women know the peer counselor program is there for them.”